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Lion Links: 2/8/21

MLS is gaining respect, Kei Kamara recognized during Black History Month, Tigres UANL makes history, and more.

El Salvador v USMNT

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! What did you think of the Super Bowl? It was not quite the back and forth affair we were promised, though I’m certain Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are happy with the result. Condolences to any readers that are Kansas City Chiefs fans, but worry not, Patrick Mahomes will bounce back and you’ll most likely see more Super Bowls while he’s around.

I don’t know about you, but we feasted at my house. We made nachos, pizza biscuit bread, and chicken nuggets. Yes, that’s a bit of time in the kitchen, but my belly tells me it was worth it. Of course, I might feel differently later this morning. Oh well, it’s only once a year. Let’s turn our attention back to soccer.

MLS is Gaining Respect

As much as we love Major League Soccer, it still is not at the level of the English Premier League, or La Liga, and that is okay. MLS is growing and getting better every year as it develops young talent before sending players to the bigger leagues. United States Men’s National Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has made note of it, crediting the academies and coaches that are able to help the players develop. More and more American MLS players such as Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, and Jordan Morris are making it to other leagues. Orlando City fans are familiar with Cyle Larin’s departure to Galatasaray, and it’s likely that Daryl Dike will make such a move in the future.

Kei Kamara Recognized as Part of Black History Month

February is Black History Month in the U.S., and our friends at Stars and Stripes FC are doing a series of articles to recall moments and celebrate players in black soccer history. One such player is Orlando City nemesis Kei Kamara. Regardless of his tendency to score against the Lions, Kamara is a journeyman MLS player who has become one of the greatest scorers in league history. The article is one of many in the excellent series that you should most certainly check out.

Liga MX Club Makes History

Tigres UANL became the first Concacaf team to advance to the FIFA Club World Cup final after a 1-0 win over Palmeiras. French striker Andre Pierre-Gignac converted a penalty to secure Tigres a spot in the final. The Liga MX side booked its ticket to the Club World Cup after defeating both New York City FC and LAFC to win the Concacaf Champions League. The Club World Cup final will take place on Feb. 11 and Tigres will play the winner of today’s match between Egyptian club Al Ahly and Bayern Munich.

More European Players Subjected to Racial Abuse

Racism continues to be a worldwide issue. Manchester United forward Lauren James is the latest European player to receive racist abuse online. James is calling on Instagram to address the racism on the social media platform. Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe also received abuse through social media as racism continues to affect European soccer.

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” When we hear about these kinds of issues, that arc seems very long, indeed.

Free Kicks
  • Let’s give congratulations to Orlando City youth player Courtney Jones for being called up to the USWNT U-17 virtual camp.
  • Parker Cleveland over at Stars and Stripes FC wondered which party food various U.S. National Team players might be. There are some obvious examples like Christian Pulisic as loaded tater tots and Bruce Arena as Pepto Bismol. Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan was designated as buffalo chicken dip for always being able to deliver.
  • Inter Miami is reportedly interested in Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross, who has played with Stoke since 2007.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović scored his 500th club goal in AC Milan’s 4-0 win over Crotone. Zlatan actually scored his 501st as well, finishing the match with a brace. I would congratulate him, but he’s probably already done so.
  • RB Leipzig found its new venue for the Champions League match against Liverpool, with the game set to take place in Budapest, Hungary.
  • Liverpool’s form isn’t very good at the moment, which is not surprising given the number of injuries this season. However, there is one bright spot. While injured, forward Diogo Jota is ranked No. 1 in the world on PlayStation’s FIFA Ultimate Team Champions leaderboard with a 30-0 record. It’s one thing to be an excellent English Premier League player, but to also destroy the competition at FIFA just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

That will do it for today. Please check back with The Mane Land for more breaking news regarding Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and all things soccer in the City Beautiful.